Georgia Power announced today the latest initiative in its strategic beneficial reuse of coal ash – a new project planned for Plant Branch near Milledgeville, Georgia, in partnership with Eco Material Technologies. The company continues to research and identify opportunities to remove and beneficially reuse, or recycle, coal ash to benefit customers and communities, helping reduce space needed for landfills and offsetting costs of coal ash pond closures. This is the company's third beneficial reuse project, including projects currently underway at Plant Bowen, near Cartersville, and Plant Mitchell, near Albany.
Plant Branch opened in 1965 and served Georgia Power customers safely and reliably for decades before being retired in 2015. The first phase of the Plant Branch beneficial reuse project will include the construction of an ash processing facility, expected to begin later this year. The facility is expected to be online in 2026 and will process ash that is excavated from the onsite ash ponds. Once fully operational, the facility will produce approximately 600,000 dry tons of marketable ash each year. In total, throughout the project's 15-year duration, over 8 million tons of ash will be excavated and processed to be used in the concrete ready-mix market.
"At Georgia Power, our team across the state is committed to meeting the energy needs of our customers today, while investing in innovative ways to continue to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for future generations of Georgians," said Jennifer McNelly, vice president of Environmental Affairs for Georgia Power. "We work every day to be innovators in the industry, reduce our environmental impact, and find ways to deliver additional value for our customers and, with this latest beneficial reuse project at Plant Branch, we are doing just that. In addition to reducing the amount of ash going to a landfill and complementing our closure plans, projects such as this bring additional jobs and positive economic impact for the local community."
Eco Material Technologies, the leading producer of sustainable cementitious materials and cement replacement products, will manage the project at Plant Branch, including the end use of the excavated coal ash. Coal ash has been demonstrated to provide significant value to certain products, such as concrete, in which it adds strength and durability. Opportunities for beneficial use of stored coal ash also help reduce the need for raw materials otherwise used in production. Eco Material and Georgia Power have worked together for over 40 years to develop new approaches to improve environmental stewardship while offsetting both cost and carbon footprint in cementitious materials.
"Our partnership with Georgia Power through the Plant Branch project, should be a model for the rest of the country on how to efficiently re-use stored coal ash in a way that positively benefits the construction industry, local communities and the environment," said Grant Quasha, CEO of Eco Material Technologies. "By doubling our output in Georgia and utilizing our ES EcoSystem Efficient Carbon Offloading ™ technology, the Plant Branch facility will help meet the need for high-quality, near-zero carbon SCMs and utilize ash for productive use."
Georgia Power currently recycles 85% of all ash and gypsum, including more than 90% of fly ash, produced from operations for various beneficial uses including concrete production and other construction products.
"As concrete manufacturers continue to work to achieve carbon neutrality in production, and power companies seek modern and innovative solutions for beneficial use of coal ash, this voluntary project in Georgia is a model for the industry, directly responding to both market and environmental needs," said Tom Adams, executive director of the American Coal Ash -MORE- Association. "With the nationwide focus on improving American infrastructure including roads and bridges, demand for materials continues to outpace available supply, and collaborative projects such as this will be critical to bridging that gap in the future."
Last year, Georgia Power announced a landmark beneficial use project in partnership with Eco Material at Plant Bowen, which remains one of the largest projects of its kind in the United States. Significant construction has been completed for the ash beneficiation plant since it began last September, and principal processing equipment such as a 1,000 ton silo and dryers, have been installed, as well as process piping around the site. Transportation of harvested ash from Plant Bowen for use in the ready-mix concrete market is expected to begin in 2024.
Once operational, an average of 600,000 tons of ash per year is expected to be removed and processed from the ash pond and landfill at the site for beneficial use. In total, approximately 9 million tons of coal ash is projected to be harvested and used under this project. Read more
In 2020, Georgia Power announced the first of the coal ash beneficial use projects at Plant Mitchell. The company continues to remove the stored coal ash at Plant Mitchell's three ash ponds for beneficial use. Over the next several years, approximately two million tons of ash are planned to be removed from the site to help create Portland cement, which is used to make concrete. As of July 2023, approximately 500,000 tons of ash have been removed from the site for this purpose. Read more
In partnership with Southern Company and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Georgia Power opened the Ash Beneficial Use Center at Plant Bowen in 2021. This research facility allows for pilot projects and testing of technologies to continue to increase the recycling and use of coal ash.
The research center is a collaborative project with other electric power utilities through EPRI, an independent, non-profit organization with members in 35 countries, and the center will be available for research projects by EPRI, utilities, technology developers, and academia.